In recent months, the focus in employment overall has shifted. Where companies across sectors were focused on recruiting previously, they’re now putting more emphasis on talent retention. This is especially true in the tech sector, where fast-moving ideas meet fast-moving people. In today’s shifting landscape, one thing is becoming clear: for many tech employees, enjoying their jobs just isn’t enough anymore.
The Satisfaction-Retention Paradox
According to research from PwC, 64% of tech employees said they were satisfied with their current jobs, putting them eight points higher than the average response across all sectors. They also report high levels of fulfillment, say they have a high degree of autonomy in choosing how they work, and say that their managers clearly consider their input for decision-making. In other words, tech as a sector outperformed pretty much every other area in all the aspects that are typically brought up in conversations about retention.
So why, then, does the same survey find that 32% of tech employees are likely to change jobs in the next 12 months – a full six percentage points higher than the average across all surveyed employees?
We can probably attribute some of this willingness to move jobs with the culture that the tech sector, as a whole, has cultivated over the last several years. The long-standing image of tech has been of a fast-paced industry of forward-thinkers, where companies merrily poaching from one another is an expected fact of life and everyone is always coming up with ideas for the next big startup. Employees who want to succeed have had to be loyal to themselves above all else, rather than a single company. For workers coming up in that mindset, it’s not surprising that they’d retain some of that independent mindset, even as the landscape of work shifts.
There’s also the passion factor of it all. In a survey of tech workers by BCG, a whopping 70% said they’d at least be open to new opportunities, even if they’re currently employed and satisfied. People who are drawn to careers in technology are often highly driven, curious, and innovative, always in search of the new and interesting. The chance to work on something more creative or exciting may be temptation enough to get them to leave their current jobs, even if they’re content with other factors like pay and benefits.
Effective Retention Strategies to Consider
Retaining tech workers is about figuring out which factors are making them interested in switching. In general, tech is likely to pay well and offer decent benefits, so what’s missing? Those are the elements to build retention strategy around.
BCG’s survey asked respondents about a number of elements of their jobs, then plotted them on two axes: one from low to high satisfaction (at their current jobs) and one from low to high importance. The key factors, then, would be in the low satisfaction/high importance quadrant, and they include:
- Work/life balance
- Job security
- Flexible hours, location, or both
- Feeling supported
- Feeling listened to
- Interesting job content
From this list, companies can gather a few things. Tech workers are in search of exciting and interesting work, want to feel a strong sense of support and respect, and are seeking flexibility and relief from high-pressure expectations.
Retention efforts, then, should focus on these elements, particularly when it comes to re-evaluating and re-vamping the employee value proposition. Of course, these will look different at every company, but in general, some considerations should include:
- Maintaining (and improving) overall culture, particularly if cost reductions and/or layoffs are in store
- Building location and time flexibility into many jobs
- Ensuring continued focus on R&D, innovation, and creativity
- Utilizing new technology, including AI, to streamline automatable tasks rather than attempting to use it to cost-cut in other areas
- Maintain open lines of communication and transparency in as many areas as possible, to help build trust and loyalty
Tech talent can be passionate, dedicated, and brilliant – and they’ll be loyal to companies that make it worth their while. When you build an organization that is committed to innovation and fully supporting its employees, you’ll be surprised how far your people can take you.
By Daniel Midoneck